The 22-year-old Garrick Higgo’s star continues to rise as he confirmed he would be representing South Africa at the Tokyo Olympic Games next month.
Higgo, who is ranked 38th in the world, qualified through the International Golf Federation list as the 17th qualifier after SA’s top-ranked golfer, Louis Oosthuizen, withdrew. He will be playing alongside countryman Christiaan Bezuidenhout as the SA golf contingent.
“It’s going to be awesome playing with Christiaan, we play well together. It’s just going to be a massive honour and hopefully, we can get a gold – it’ll mean a lot to the country and similar to the Rugby World Cup in 2019.”
Higgo shot to prominence in May this year when he won two European Tour events in the space of three weeks and in doing so became the fastest South African to three European tour wins. His rapid ascent was not to stop there, though, as in his second-ever start on the PGA Tour he came away with victory at the Palmetto Championship at Congaree.
Higgo insists it has not been difficult to adapt his game between tours and across continents, crediting his time spent at university in America as helping his development.
“I was lucky to play over here when I played one year in college. I played a lot of the US courses, so it’s not that different. I haven’t been back here, but I played well. My game has improved and gotten better since then, so it’s nice to bring that game to these courses and I’m feeling that comfortable. So far it’s worked out.”
Despite only being in the infancy of his career, Higgo has already shown he has a old head on his shoulders. His calmness under pressure to win at Congaree while the rest of the field folded around him was testimony to his temperament. It is set to become an important feature of his game in the future.
“I treat each event as the same, I don’t make it a bigger thing, which helps mentally as to how I go about our business whether it’s a PGA Tour or Big Easy Tour event. Obviously, the guys you’re playing against is harder, but I don’t really worry about what the other guys do, which makes it easier to play well.”
Higgo may have missed the cut at the US Open, but he is not disheartened by the setback and admits that mental fatigue following his stunning victory at Congaree also played its part.
“I learned from that [US Open] week as I do from each week. I think it was tough winning before the US Open, it would’ve been nice to win any other week, but I can take a nice positive away. I just missed the cut even being mentally drained in all that stuff and playing with a different caddie. I think I played well in a sense.
“It wasn’t the worst thing to miss the cut. I had a couple of days to relax and get fresh for the rest of the year … the more you play in Majors the better you get. You get more focused and tighten up your misses and, by playing those, you get more comfortable in the rough and greens.”
Higgo will play in his fourth PGA Tour event when he tees off at the Travelers Championship in Cromwell on Thursday. Although he has not closed the door on playing in Europe and South Africa, he has made it clear his playing future is mostly in the States.
“America is a lot stronger, the depth out here is unreal, anyone can win. I’m looking forward to playing over here a lot but I’ll play in Europe and maybe in South Africa. I’ll have to sit down and see what events I’d like to play, but the majority will be here.”